Come in and Stay Safe! --Sue

Favorite Posts

Here are a few of my favorite posts.  First, the famous Ricotta Tart with Toasted Almonds, Ginger, and Caramelized Pears.  This post has generated more interest (and editorial imitation) than any other, perhaps for obvious reasons:  it's delicious, it uses both ricotta and fresh pears, it has a cookie crust.... so it's getting its own page, at least for a while.
Then, Moonlight Pies in Vermont, a concept I fell in love with, researched, developed and finally posted in May.  Again, this has recently been imitated by a media source, so you might enjoy it too.

Please add a comment, and let me know what you think.  Have you tried the recipes?  Other comments?

Monday, April 19, 2010

Ricotta Tart with Toasted Almonds, Ginger, and Caramelized Pears

This is a ricotta tart with toasted almonds, crystallized ginger and caramelized pears, in an almond cookie crust.  It is very light and tender.   The tart can be made from ordinary ricotta, but it's also a great way to use homemade ricotta* or ricotta which is left over from cheesemaking.

I found some lovely Packham pears at the market, and I thought their subtle flavor would work well with ricotta.  Finely chopped crystallized ginger, creme fraiche and a bit of almond flour all harmonize with but don't overpower the pears.

Ricotta Tart with Toasted Almonds, Ginger, and Caramelized Pears

In Preparation:
Heat oven to 375F
Lightly spray inside of a 9 inch tart pan with removable bottom
*[optional] homemade ricotta: Add 1 tsp citric acid to 1 gal. milk.  Heat, stirring as needed to prevent scorching on the bottom, to 190F.  When ricotta separates (near 190F), turn off the heat and wait 10 min.  Drain through cheesecloth and cool.


2/3 cup almond flour
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
5 T unsalted butter
1/8 tsp salt
2 T cream
1 T water (as necessary)

Caramelized Pears
3 large Packham pears, peeled, cored and quartered
1/2 cup sugar
1 T Butter

Ricotta Filling:
3 cups ricotta
1 T  almond flour
3 eggs
1/3 cup creme fraiche  or  sour cream mixed with heavy cream
1 T crystallized ginger, minced very fine
2 T cream
2 tsp flour
3/4 cup sugar

3/4 cup slivered blanched almonds, for topping


Caramelized Pears:
Put the sugar and butter in a saute pan and heat, stirring occasionally, until the sugar is melted and light brown.  Add the pears and cook over low heat, turning occasionally, until pears are cooked and syrup is reduced, about 30 minutes.  Set aside.

 1. In the food processor bowl, combine almond flour, all-purpose flour, sugar, salt and butter; pulse until butter is distributed and the mixture resembles coarse corn meal. 
2. Add the cream and pulse 3 or 4 times.  Pinch a bit between your fingers; it should hold together easily, but not be wet.  If needed, add a few drops water at a time, pulsing and testing between additions.
3. Press the dough into the prepared tart pan, creating an even thickness overall.  Refrigerate the crust while preparing the filling.

1.  In the food processor bowl, combine the ricotta, all purpose flour, almond flour, crystallized ginger, sugar and eggs; process until smooth.
2. Add creme fraiche and cream, pulse until combined and the mixture is smooth.

Assembling and baking the tart:

1. Pour the filling into the refrigerated crust.  Place in preheated oven.
2. After 12 minutes, turn the heat down to 325F.
3. After a total of 35 minutes, or until tart is slightly puffed and golden, brush some of the pear syrup on the hot surface and sprinkle with the blanched almonds; put 8 inches under a hot broiler just until the almonds begin to turn color (lightly toasted).  Or toast them more if you prefer. Remove from oven.
4. Cool slightly, then arrange pears on top of the toasted almonds, drizzling syrup over all.
5. Cool the tart, then enjoy!

Monday, May 17, 2010

Moonlight Pies in Vermont

Chocolate graham crackers filled with maple marshmallow cream: moonlight pies in Vermont.

Sometimes I just want to make something that evokes memories.  These cookies remind me of my childhood in the Midwest, although my mother would never have made them.  She was fascinated by supermarkets, frozen food, and kitchen appliances.  Cooking was a chore, which modern-day people had more or less dispensed with.

Which is why I didn't know how to make chocolate graham crackers.  If she had only known how easy it is to make them!  However, while I was researching graham crackers, I uncovered some disturbing facts.  Wikipedia:  Developed in 1829 by Presbyterian minister Rev. Sylvester Graham, "Graham crackers were originally marketed as "Dr. Graham's Honey Biskets" and were conceived of as a health food as part of the Graham Diet, a regimen to suppress what he considered unhealthy carnal urges, the source of many maladies according to Graham. "

My, my.  Kids eat these.  They're made into prefab piecrusts.  You can buy them at the IGA.  What's the world coming to?
But the description of graham flour sounded a lot like the lovely white whole wheat flour I get from King Arthur.  I decided to also use double-dutch cocoa powder, to get the deep chocolate color, and Vermont honey for depth and sweetness.  Of course, this train of thought soon led to marshmallow, as many things do.

Chocolate Graham Crackers

Makes 30 - 36 crackers

In Preparation:
Heat oven to 300F.
Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper

10 oz. White Whole Wheat flour, from King Arthur Flour
4 oz. all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup Double-Dutch Cocoa powder
3 oz. brown sugar
2 oz. caster sugar (very fine sugar, dissolves easily)
1 tsp baking soda
3 oz. butter
1/2 cup Vermont raw honey
1/3 cup milk

1. In an electric mixer bowl, mix together the flours, salt, cocoa powder, sugars, and baking soda, until blended thoroughly.
2. Add the butter, honey and milk; mix thoroughly
3. Sprinkle a bit of flour on the counter.  Roll out half the dough, fairly thin (about 3/16", or less).

Cut out 3" circles with decorative cutter, or biscuit cutter.  With the tip of a skewer, poke small holes at even spacing on the cookie, with one in the center.   Place on prepared parchment-lined pan.

4. Bake at 300F for 13 minutes or until cooked through.  Take care to not permit the cookies to burn on the bottom.
5. Cool on parchment, then remove and store in cool, dry space, or use as wrapper for marshmallow cream.

Maple Marshmallow Cream

This makes a lovely filling for graham crackers, or for eating by itself.  The maple is a very subtle note in the marshmallow.  This recipe makes quite a bit of marshmallow.  If you are only going to use it for the cookies, cut the recipe in half.

In preparation:
Line a quarter sheet pan with parchment; sprinkle with corn starch.
Get out all the ingredients and be ready to quickly combine.
Find candy thermometer

3 envelopes Knox unflavored gelatin, or 3 T gelatin powder
1/2 cup cold water
1 pound sugar
2 oz. light corn syrup
1/2 cup water
4 egg whites, or 4 T dry egg whites and 7 T water, whisked together.
6 T Vermont maple syrup, grade B
corn starch for dusting

1. In a small bowl, sprinkle gelatin over the 1/2 cup cold water.  Stir in with chopstick; this will soak up and become a mass.
2. In a saucepan, put candy thermometer on the side, then combine the sugar, corn syrup, and 1/2 cup water; bring to boil and cook to 245F.  Soften the bowl of gelatin by microwaving for a few seconds, set aside.
3. When sugar is almost at the desired temperature, start to beat egg whites to moderate peaks; when sugar is ready, keep the mixer running and add the sugar in a thin, steady stream.  Continue beating.
4. Add in the gelatin, and then add in the maple syrup.  Beat until the meringe holds a peak.  Then pour a couple of cups onto a plate, and put the rest (any extra) in the prepared pan.  (Later, the pan marshmallow can be cut up with a knife dipped in hot water.)
5. Refrigerate the plate for three to five minutes, then put a large tablespoon of filling between two cookies, twist and press together.  This should be done while the marshmallow is still very warm, and workable.
Alternate approach:  Using a pastry bag with a large star tip, pipe the hot marshmallow onto the base cookie in a spiral pattern, creating a uniform layer.  Place the top cookie on the marshmallow and press lightly to seal.

6.  Enjoy with a glass of milk!

The first night we moved to Vermont, we stood outside in awe of the night sky.  The air is very clear. There is no ambient light from cities or highways, and the stars are very bright.  Every night, the show is different.  When the moon is full, it's almost like daylight.
Last night, we were halfway there:


  1. Hi Sue. I love the looks of all your Ricotta recipes. My time is so short (many small children, lots of farm animals, etc.) that I don't have much time to mess with Ricotta right now. But you really inspire me! Thanks! - Kristin

  2. Ahoy from New Zealand! Have just discovered your blog and wow, it's great. You're living the dream. Will def have to try that ricotta tart some time.


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